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How Deep Tissue Massage Has Helped Me, a 9-5 Employee


By Ashley Zimmermann


Image by Ryan Hoyme from Pixabay


Deep Tissue massage has been both a lifesaver and a luxury during my eight-year tenure in Corporate America (aka my adulting experience). Working with Dana from Picturesque Massage has been overwhelmingly positive. This article is intended to educate about some of the positive results that massage can bring and give a snapshot of what the experience has looked like for me.


Disclaimer: I am a human resources professional, virtual assistant, and freelance writer- this is not intended as medical advice.


Back health is something I think many people, especially office-working adults, take for granted. We spend a minimum of eight hours a day sitting in a chair in front of our screens; this becomes such an ingrained habit (and physical position) that our bodies begin to mold to this sedentary shape. Human bodies were not built to do this!


I firmly believe that lack of awareness is a big part of the problem. This sitting-working position starts early - elementary school early. This desk-sitting lifestyle is perpetuated throughout childhood and for many, continues into college and the working world. Unfortunately, this is one of the downsides that has arisen from the tech economy, as opposed to agricultural and industrial economies of prior centuries, when more people were on their feet all day. It is safe to assume that the economy won't be moving backward in time, so we must adopt positive habits to protect our health. Massage can play an important and beneficial part in this.


Some Background:


I had started seeing a chiropractor during my last year in high school and had become acquainted with how bad my posture was. Think about it: firstly sitting all day; secondly, cranking one's neck down to read, write, type, or study ... all day. Not a great setup. Once I started getting regular adjustments, I came to realize that it is not normal, nor healthy, to feel stiff and sore all the time. Before the chiropractor, I thought this was normal. The adjustments made me feel better and the chiro and I started working out years of compounded stiffness and posture issues. (Fun fact: I also happen to have a long torso.)


My experience with massage started sometime during college when the Marquette Physical Therapy students offered their annual Massage-a-Thon. This was an opportunity to let the students get some experience and to get those nasty knots worked out of my shoulders for a reasonable price. I scheduled as many sessions as I could afford. The students would ask what I wanted to work on, and my answer was always the same: those shoulder and neck knots. I would say, please work them out, I don't care if it hurts!


After graduation, the 9-5 life set in: my stress level increased, the sedentary lifestyle continued, and alas, I got a little bit older. I was sore, stiff, and uncomfortable. I remembered how much I liked the massages at school and thought perhaps I should try that route again. I found Picturesque on Groupon several years ago, set up an appointment, and have been grateful for Dana's services ever since.


What is Deep Tissue Massage?


As previously described, my body has morphed into a sitting shape over the years, and my shoulders/neck area, in particular, bothers me; undoubtedly from the constant typing position as well as the fact I tend to 'shrug' and scrunch up my shoulders when I'm stressed. I also do weight training several days a week, so lactic acid buildup after training adds even more acute soreness.


Deep tissue massage is a great option for me and can be for others who have chronic pain or injuries because the focus is on deeper layers of the body, as opposed to a Swedish massage which is focused primarily on relaxation. interviewed Amy Montia, Ph.D., LMT who says, "The goal of a deep tissue massage is to support joint restrictions, knots, and adhesions in muscle and fascia." What is fascia? Johns Hopkins explains it this way: "Fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber and muscle in place."


In lay terms: deep tissue massage focuses on working the knots out of my shoulders, which is exactly what I want.


I recommend taking a few minutes to watch this quick video from Groupon: Deep-Tissue Massage – What You Should Know. The narrator and the featured massage therapist offer great points of view from the client and therapist. If you need a point of reference, take a look at Groupon's other video about Swedish massage.


If you do have a deep tissue session booked, be prepared for the possibility of some soreness. There is an element of 'discomfort' during the session, but for me, the discomfort is far outweighed by how good I feel when the session is done. For example, my hips are very tight (due to my constant sitting situation) so Dana really works on 'stretching' them out for me. As the therapist mentioned in the Groupon video, pain exists on a continuum, and a simple conversation between client and therapist is all that is needed if things get too sore.




To quote Insider: "The main goal of a deep tissue massage is to work out areas of pain and tension, as well as provide a release to knots and adhesions in underlying muscle and fascia." For my particular profile, enough lifestyle and external factors add up so that I experience chronic neck and shoulder pain; this is more than average 'tension.' I have a medium to high pain tolerance, so deep tissue massage is a good technique for me, whereas it might not be a good solution for someone else who has a lower pain threshold. To determine if deep tissue massage might benefit you, consult your medical provider or trusted massage therapist.


The experience of receiving a massage is different for everyone. I prefer the deep tissue technique because it addresses and relieves my chronic mild-to-medium pain. For me, it is primarily relaxing and pleasant during the session, and I feel looser and freer afterward. There is a lightness in my body where there is usually heaviness and strain.


Another element of massage that makes it special is the sense of luxury. Massage has long been associated with the "spa day" experience, often because many people reserve it for special occasions. However, massage therapists tell us that sessions ought to be integrated into your routine on a regular basis if the technique aids in relieving your pain.


Even though I schedule sessions regularly, massage still feels like a luxury for me. Firstly, the experience itself is a combination of physical and mental relaxation due to the calming, soothing ambiance of the session (stay tuned for another article to discuss this in more detail). Secondly, I am used to chronic tension and pain as part of daily life, so the sensation of having it massaged away is inherently luxurious. Massage increases my quality of life. I highly recommend learning more about deep tissue massage if you think you could benefit from it.


Resources: Deep-Tissue Massage – What You Should Know - What is a Swedish Massage? | Favin the Mavin - The benefits of deep tissue massage and why it's not for everyone - Muscle Pain: It May Actually Be Your Fascia

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